Billionaire British businessman Joe Lewis is reportedly ready to give up his shares in North London soccer club Tottenham Hotspurs for $1.5 billion. He bought the club in 2001 for just $33 million.
Lewis, 77, born and raised in the East End of London, is now a tax exile who spends most of his time in the Bahamas, having accumulated an estimated $6 billion in currency trading, has been considering selling his soccer team for some time.
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Lewis’s decision comes in the wake of news that construction on the new state-of-the-art, 56, 000 seat stadium adjacent to the club’s iconic White Hart Lane stadium has been delayed for up to a year, meaning that the club will be forced to find temporary accommodations.
Another factor is the club’s lack of success in recent years, both in the British and the European leagues.
With speculation of Lewis’s future reverberating throughout the English soccer scene, a spokesperson for the club has issued a statement denying that the club is up for sale, saying that “Neither the club, nor its majority shareholder, are in any takeover discussions, with the focus of the club is fully on delivering the new stadium project, whilst achieving success on the soccer field.”
Tottenham Hotspur’s plans for a seamless move to the new stadium were dashed after a High Court appeal, launched by a property owner on the site of the club’s proposed new home, is expected to delay construction of the new season faster the original proposed completion date, just in time for the start of the 2017-18 Premier League season.
Spurs have hired the high-powered Rothschild investment firm to advise them on their financial options for the new stadium, which is expected to cost around $675 million.
In the meantime, according to reports, Tottenham management is investigating their options in finding a temporary home, with some of the possibilities including playing their home games in Wembley, or sharing the recently completed Olympic Stadium in Stratford with London rivals West Ham United.